Conference seeks to 'Tell the Story' of African-American history in Utah
Robert Burch is the Executive Director of Sema Hadithi, African American Heritage and Culture. The Sema Hadithi Foundation works to tell the story of African-ancestored history, heritage and culture in Utah and the Intermountain West.
“Sema Hadithi is Swahili for ‘Tell the Story,” Burch said.
Burch started the foundation with his wife after researching African-American genealogy and finding deep roots in Utah’s history.
“The struggle that we found as we help people in genealogy and tell the story of Utah is that many people are not even familiar with the stories of African-American contributions here in Utah,” he said.
The foundation is holding its annual Tell the Story conference on September 15th and 16th. Burch said the conference is an opportunity for Utahns to have difficult conversations about sensitive topics.
“People feel uncomfortable having conversations about certain topics. And what we want to do is to create an environment where people will feel safe and comfortable talking about things and they can actually sit across from other people and have these conversations, have a good conversation, come back, come out with a greater understanding,” Burch said.
He said this fear and lack of understanding have created mistrust and hatred between communities.
“If we can help them get rid of those false beliefs we can bring people together,” he said.
He said the conference is an opportunity to connect with new people and get out of the echo chambers we often find ourselves in.
You can find more information about Sema Hadithi and the Tell the Story conference here.